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Embers of War

Written by: Gareth L. Powell
Length: 10 hrs and 38 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

From BSFA award-winning author Gareth L. Powell comes the first in a new epic sci-fi trilogy exploring the legacies of war.

The sentient warship Trouble Dog was built for violence, yet following a brutal war, she is disgusted by her role in a genocide. Stripped of her weaponry and seeking to atone, she joins the House of Reclamation, an organization dedicated to rescuing ships in distress. When a civilian ship goes missing in a disputed system, Trouble Dog and her new crew of loners, captained by Sal Konstanz, are sent on a rescue mission.

Meanwhile, light years away, intelligence officer Ashton Childe is tasked with locating the poet, Ona Sudak, who was aboard the missing spaceship. What Childe doesn't know is that Sudak is not the person she appears to be. A straightforward rescue turns into something far more dangerous, as Trouble Dog, Konstanz, and Childe find themselves at the center of a conflict that could engulf the entire galaxy. If she is to save her crew, Trouble Dog is going to have to remember how to fight ...

©2018 Gareth L. Powell (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Embers of War

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Beckersly
  • 20-06-18

Sign me up for the crew!

This book is a great character driven Space Opera. It immediately pulled me in and kept me hooked. Great opener for a trilogy and looking forward to what comes next.
This book reminded me of A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. However, if I'm honest, this one is better. It's better for the fact that it's character driven but it also has fast paced action that will keep you at the edge of your seat which was lacking in A Long Way (at least for me).
If you love sentient ships, space operas, character driven novels, strong female characters, adorable aliens, fun science fiction, multiple narratives, or just a great book...check this one out!

I read this first as a physical book and then we had the author on our podcast (www.litchickspodcast.com) and he informed us that the audio book was coming out. Not only was it coming out but it was a separate narrator for each character that's given narration in the book! I knew I would have to check it out. I would have to know how they gave voice to their characters. And they absolutely crushed it. Love all the narrators in this book! Hope they all sign up to do the rest of the trilogy! I hate when series change narrators!

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Hilmi S Alkindy
  • 20-09-20

Narrator has an annoying cadence

Narrator has an annoying cadence and emphasis words in an offbeat way that confuses the brain. it's as if she is trying to read the story like a rhyme and is forcing rythme into her reading. couldn't continue listening

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Derek
  • 21-12-18

great space opera

I just finished #nebulareading of @garethlpowell's Embers of War. Great #spaceopera with self-aware ships, ancient tech, and human conflict. An anti-war, anti-violence story of guilt, redemption, power and humanitarianism.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Deanne Morgan
  • 14-08-18

Character Study, Not a Sci Fi Novel

This book is not a sci fi novel but instead a character study. There are moments of action interspersed between long, long descriptions about how miserable each person/AI/alien feels.The characters are all insecure, depressed, experiencing existential crises, and suffering from depression, guilt/shame, and PTSD - including the AI and the alien. All are consumed with themselves; they don't work and play well together. None of the characters were sympathetic; I hoped they'd all die just so the misery would end. The book was boring.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Tory Thai
  • 21-09-20

Narrator has a weird cadence to her voice.

I do not like this narrator, it makes it impossible to want to continue.

Her voice has a lot of emphasis and rhythm to words that don't need it.

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  • Erika S.
  • 12-09-20

this narrator....

is terrible. She lowers her voice so strangely at the end of every sentence. I have to return this book.

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  • Lathrop Preston
  • 11-09-20

Excellent story, with incredible characters and world building

Embers of War is an excellent tale set to science fiction world.

While there is some action, the story isn’t focused on combat or epic space battles. So if that’s what you are looking for this one might not be for you.

However, if you enjoy well written (and performed) stories that focus on characters and how they progress through the events around them then give this a try.

The author did and astounding job of weaving the threads of the story through multiple POV characters; each with distinct voice, drives and agency. None of the characters are quite who they were at the start, each touched and changed by their decisions and events around them.

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  • Michael G Kurilla
  • 08-09-20

War ruminations while looking for redemption

Gareth L Powell's Embers of War is the first installment in a trilogy in a universe with an AI warship lamenting its previous role. The Trouble Dog is a former military warship that now works for the House of Reclamation which services stranded space voyagers. While ostensibly on a peaceful mission of rescue, the ship and her crew, which have expanded due to other interests in a particular passenger on the downed vessel, finds itself in the midst of an interstellar political / military escapade. Most of the participants have a past history with a particularly morally questionable operation in the last interstellar war.

Powell crafts an intriguing universe with AI spacecraft derived from human tissue offering a straightforward anthropomorphizing aspect. Unfortunately, all of the main characters are excessively introspective and brooding, although the sci-fi elements and the plot itself drive the story forward and are well rendered. It was a little bit surprising that unknown alien artifacts the size of planets have little interests beyond serving as mere tourist attractions. Finally, the dues ex machina nature of the denouement and resolution was underwhelming.

The choice of multiple narrators for the various first person perspectives was well done with each doing a more than adequate job. Pacing is brisk and aligns nicely with the overall plot.

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  • J. Dobber
  • 06-09-20

Totally recommend. Unique presentation.

I’m a sci-fi aficionado, consuming literature from the 1800 to 2020. .....

The style is very unique. First person via main characters; including the ship as a being.

Some parts are obvious, other illuminating.

Pay close attention to each character’s name in the first few characters.

I hope you as much as I did.






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  • Ignaty
  • 01-09-20

Excellent story, multiple good narrators !

An engaging first book for what looks to be a promising scifi series.
The use of a separate narrator for each character is a very nice touch.

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  • Iron Duke
  • 22-03-19

Awful

Just bad. Terrible characterisation, daft dialogue terrible narration. Very little sci. Reads like a bad YA novel.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Len
  • 07-03-19

Excellent story let down by narration

Super imagination and excellent story. However the narration was across the board poor with the overwhelming sound of breathless sadness across everything becoming boring and keeping the listener from becoming as engaged as it could have been.
Will however get second book on strength of the story

1 person found this helpful

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  • Joe at the shed
  • 24-10-18

Nice concept but lacked substance in the delivery

I found this audio book difficult to finish, starting it fine... The introduction and character generation were sound with believable back storeys.

However as the story developed I found the choices the characters made less believable and even jarred with what was written (although in an audio book it's sometimes difficult to tell how progress has been made) in the previous page. This seemed to continue right through the book, examples include the captain/admiral who appeared later in the book, only having one constant setting, rage. While it might be believable that admirals might get in a rage, someone who has extensive military experience will be able control their own emotions better.

The ending also seemed rushed, and in my opinion to easy for the hero to win out to victory from an unlikely position, also giving them to much power without understanding the costs or risks associated.

To summarise... Only buy this if you are desperate for a fill in between better quality books

1 person found this helpful

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  • F. Adomeit
  • 15-09-18

Slow and not very original character piece

The story tries to show all the different characters and their perspectives, but none of them are very interesting or original. There is barely any story around the characters and instead of progressing the story it often goes into the characters thoughts and histories for ages before returning to the current moment. It even sometime reiterates the not very interesting situation from different perspectives just so we definitely know how every character in the scene felt about it. This seems to be a central problem where the book just keeps explaining things instead of showing it organically through the story. Here have the "History of the House of Reclamation", let me just explain these space suits, oh aren't these weird planet formations mysterious? All of these things could have been interesting if they had been part of a good story, but it is not.
It gets very exhausting and didn't hold my attention on a train ride where I had absolutely nothing better to do than to listen to the story.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sarah
  • 01-07-18

multiple narrators are great, in enjoyable story

This takes the familiar trope of dispirit rogue starship crew who have different agendas and some of who are not even on the same side and does something new and interesting with the idea. This time it's a first responder rescue ship. This really makes it stand out as abit different and makes for a very engaging tale. It helps a great deal that the ship itself is a well rounded and entertaining character. what really makes this an engaging audio book is that the tale is told by several different narrators each playing different crew mates as each chapter is 1st person from a individual characters point of view. This really really works and draws you into the tale. Highly recommended listening!

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  • Kevin Gilmartin
  • 25-04-20

Great story, let down by one bad narrator out of 5

I really like Powell's writing and I really enjoyed this story. I liked it week enough that I've bought the next 2 instruments in the trilogy. BUT...

... the lady who narrates Ona Sudak's sections is TERRIBLE. She reads it all slow and sultry, with breathy extended vowels. At one point she's describing war atrocities and it sounds like she's reading that horniest bits of 50 Shades of Grey!

The other 4 narrators are great, though, and if you put the speed up to 1.25x during the Ona Sudak chapters, it's not so bad. I still recommend this as a great sci-fi yarn.

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  • james
  • 18-04-20

good space opera, story builds well

put off a wee bit from the multiple voices in the performance but got used to it. the plot was was worth it in the end,

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  • russ
  • 21-05-19

Nice story. not cheesy

Nice story, not cheesy but also not serious. great performances, and I'll check out a few more of his books. hopefully the cast, real and imagined are back again

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  • mr
  • 05-05-19

Cool sentient spaceships

Took me a while but once I got about a third in really enjoyed it. Loved the concept of sentient spaceships. Decent story, good characters, liked the use of multiple narrator's tho one of them I did not enjoy at all so fortuitous that there was more than one!

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  • Elmamaria
  • 03-04-19

Listened to twice

A wonderful cast of characters and moral dilemmas. Had to listen to it again before embarking on book 2 - fleet of knives. Loved the vast scope of it and can’t wait to see how the de facto peace keepers of the multiplicity stop themselves from becoming tyrants and where Trouble Dog and her crew end up.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Steven
  • 06-03-19

a great story, masterfully told

An enjoyable sci fi romp with delicious teasing of the story to come. Relatable characters and good descriptions of technology at a good placement in the hard/soft sci fi intersection.